The glass is always half-empty when Wall Street analyzes exhibition’s future.
Not surprisingly, that’s how the Street treated the news that WB’s 2021 theatrical films would open day & date with a streaming release on HBO Max. In their rush to bury exhibition, analysts overlooked the fact that Max doesn’t boast a paid subscriber base anywhere close to Netflix (about 195M) or Disney+ (about 74M). Max reportedly has 8.6M subscribers from a base of 28.7M HBO subscribers, who can get Max free if they just activate their accounts.
Many HBO subscribers reportedly don’t know how to activate Max or how it differs from HBO. Frankly, those 8.6M subs don’t pose a huge threat to exhibition. How many are likely to watch the new WB movies on Max? If 50% do – and that’s a high rate of return – it would mean only 4.3M people were theoretically lost to streaming.
The good news Wall Street overlooked is that exhibitors will have 17 new WB titles – including DUNE (pictured) – to play as virus vaccines roll out and moviegoing heats up. That’s very good news for exhibitors who haven’t had anything to play until lately that people actually wanted to see.